The “A Word” And Presidential Dignity

Last night in my post about President Obama’s “whose ass to kick” comment, I said:

It will be interesting to see how the public and the media reacts to this, not the least being because this is the first time that I can remember that a President used and (admittedly minor) vulgarity in a public statement. This isn’t the 1950′s, so I can’t imagine that most people will think it’s that big of a deal, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the right-wing chatter machine tried to make it the outrage of the day for Tuesday.

Well, it didn’t take long for someone to take offense:

Not everybody was pleased with President Obama’s uncharacteristic line on the Today Show, spoken in the pre-school hours Tuesday morning, that he wants some “ass to kick” in the Gulf oil crisis.
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Becky Quick, who co-hosts Squawk Box with lead anchor Joe Kernen and co-host Carl Quintanilla, slapped Obama for using unpresidential language in an interview he knew would be aired as children prepared for school.

“If you’re the president of the United States and you go on the Today Show which is a morning show, where you’re going to have a lot of kids sitting around watching this, I think you choose your words more carefully,” said Quick. “Using the A word when you are on the Today Show talking with Matt Lauer, yeah, that disturbs me. But I also think that this is a way of trying to prove that I’m mad, to do exactly what everybody’s been pushing me to do, and it doesn’t ring true.”

(…)

“You can point to people who say these things all the time, we’ve used these words, but again, if you’re the president of the United States and you are on the Today Show I would expect a different choice of words,” she said.

Two thoughts come to mind. First of all, is there really a large preteen and adolescent audience for the Today show on the average morning when most kids in America are still going to school ? Second after some of the language we’ve heard on the Watergate Tapes, not to mention Dick Cheney’s memorable comment to Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate, are we really all that shocked to hear what is really an incredibly minor curse word cross the Presidential lips ?

Perhaps I’m being overly cynical but I don’t see how this is really a big deal.

Update: I was reminded via Twitter of a previous incident of Presidential cursing.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. sam says:

    “It will be interesting to see how the public and the media reacts to this, not the least being because this is the first time that I can remember that a President used and (admittedly minor) vulgarity in a public statement.”
    I recall reading that Harry Truman once said, “I don’t know where people get the idea that the President has all this power. I spend most of my time around here kissing somebody’s ass.”
     

  2. Look, I know the immediate reaction is to think that its not that big of deal.  But it is, it really is (and the “Cheny and others have done worse!” argument doesn’t help your cause.). When I was young, my parents cursed a lot.  But I never picked it up.  Why? Because I lived by WWPOTUSS (What would POTUS say).  So yeah, my parents have cursed like a drunken sailor, but my mouth was kept angelic.  Then comes my 19th birthday, and the infamous f-bomb from Cheney.  Within 2 weeks I was asked to leave my church, as I was unable to stop injecting f-bombs into the Lord’s prayer and the Nicene creed.  Then I failed chemistry 116, forever preventing me from finishing my engineering degree.  Every test I took all I could think of were those sweet sweet swear words coming from the nation’s leader’s mouth.
     
    POTUS/VPOTUS swearing ruined my life.  Do you want this fate to befall innocent children?

  3. Drew says:

    I don’t give a rats, er, arse, that he said “ass.”  What I care about is that he didn’t mean a word of it.